February 2009
It's 50/50 - first quant poll of the Queensland election
Friday, 27 February 2009 17:13 | Written by Graham Young

The Courier Mail published a Galaxy poll this morning which has the Government and Opposition each on 50% of the two-party preferred vote.

This is broadly consistent with my prediction that the LNP would win 12 to 15 seats, which was based on the softness in the government vote that our polling has been showing.

Galaxy also finds that the Greens vote is 8%, which is consistent with our polling.

Anna Bligh is also preferred premier - 50% versus 33% to Springborg. 64% expect Labor to win, and most voters believe that neither party deserves to win.

Ominously for the LNP, the only issue where they are rated as being superior to Labor is health. Balancing that, on the economic front, the loss of Queensland's triple A rating saw one in five say they were less likely to vote for the government.

At the moment you have to buy a hard copy of the paper to see more detail. Hopefully the survey results will be up on the web later.

Another way of measuring opinion on emissions trading
Friday, 27 February 2009 09:23 | Written by Graham Young

Researchers from the Crawford School of Economics at the ANU asked Sydney-siders how much additional they would be prepared to pay to meet the cost of an emissions trading scheme.

“The survey respondents were willing to pay an extra $135 per household each month towards the CPRS,” said Professor Bennett.

“But when aggregated across the nation, this represents $8.46 billion per annum - significantly less than the Treasury estimated cost of $14.7 billion per annum.

In other words they will willingly pay only about half what is needed.

Our surveying found that whether or not Australians approved of the emissions trading scheme was line-ball with 40% in favour and 39% against.

It's depressing - TNS survey
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 08:36 | Written by Graham Young

A TNS survey conducted around the same time as our last federal political omnibus comes to similar conclusions. If respondents were given $1,000 surplus only $220 would be spent with the rest being saved or used to pay down debt.

TNS also finds that 57% of Australians think we are heading into a Depression, and 51% think the crisis will last another one or two years.

What this should say to politicians is that giving more money to Australians at any time in the next two years would be a very poor way to stimulate the economy because most of it will be saved. Which is what our research said.

It also makes you wonder who is advising Lawrence Springborg in Queensland. Today he claimed that Labor is "playing up the scope of the financial crisis". When 57% of your constituents are calling it a depression, they're not likely to give you marks for insight when your claim is so different from the reality they perceive. If anything, they'd probably think that Anna Bligh is being unduly optimistic when she says "Things are likely to get worse before they get better over the next 12 months".

What the Queensland polling is saying to me is that Springborg's best chance of besting Bligh is to claim that things are much worse than she is claiming, and that is why she is going early. I might need to start revising my forecast of seats to change hands! Despite claiming for months that Bligh was going to have an early election the Lib/Nats don't seem to know what their key messages should be.

What's right for me and what's right for the country
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 23:50 | Written by Graham Young

In January awareness of the global financial crisis was quite widespread, which seems to have resulted in a decline in satisfaction with the direction in which the country is heading.


This decline is not reflected in respondents' views of the direction of their own life.


This may reflect the fact that our respondents tend to come from a demographic which is less exposed to economic pressure, or that perceptions of what might happen to other people are more severe than perceptions of what might happen to respondents themselves.

As a rule in market research respondents' perceptions of what others think are no better than anyone else's guesses, so it could be that while everyone thinks others are going to suffer, in the area where they have real expertise - what might happen to them - things are not as bad. Suggesting that concerns about the financial crisis may be overblown.

The list below ranks concerns for personal and national direction. There is one significant difference - respondents see the government having a big impact on national direction, but little on their own. They are also more worried about employment as it affects them, rather than the nation.


Rudd was on the Wayne in January
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 22:18 | Written by Graham Young

Our longitudinal surveying suggested that Kevin Rudd was losing some of his lustre in January with a decrease in his approval rating and an increase in his disapproval.

At the same time, a number of voters who approved of Turnbull had decided to withhold their support in January and keep an open-mind by terming themselves neither approve nor disapprove.


Turnbull improves slightly on First Preference Index
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 22:11 | Written by Graham Young

Our longitudinal survey of the panel shows that at the end of January the Liberal Party’s standing had improved marginally. It also showed the Greens gaining significantly. This was before the Opposition’s decision to oppose the $42 billion stimulus package.

It is in line with Newspoll’s findings for January that there had been an improvement in the Liberals vote from December, but little change since the election. Since then Newspoll has shown the Opposition on a slight downwards trajectory.


Liberal Nationals should win 12 to 15 seats
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 21:44 | Written by Graham Young

(This piece is cross-posted from Ambit Gambit)

It is really too early to be predicting election results, but with the Queensland election scheduled for the 21st March, there's not much time left. So here is my "prediction". The Liberal National Party should win 12 to 15 seats, all other things being equal.

Labor has effectively been in power since 1989, with a brief interregnum between 1996 and 1998. Over the last 20 years it has run the state into the ground to such an extent that the same people who rated the toxic debt in the US AAA can only give its borrowings a AA+ rating, worse than even NSW which is the basket case state in Australia. It has also lost 9 members of parliament to retirement, most of whom will be replaced by what are effectively party hacks.

On this performance claims to be a "safe pair of hands" should reinforce the perception that this government is all spin and no substance. However the government has a huge margin of safety in terms of seats, and is favoured by an electoral redistribution that would allow it to win with just 49.5% of the vote.

You can get a good handle on how the seats fall from this analysis by David Fraser. Labor has 58 seats (since the preparation of these figures Labor lost one seat through defection to the Greens of Indooroopilly MLA Ronan Lee), and a working majority is 45, meaning it can lose 13 seats and still have a majority.

However, the redistribution last year notionally gives Labor three extra seats, so they can "lose" 16 and still govern in their own right.

My prediction is based on the redistributed seats, so it is for a line-ball result.

Many commentators are saying that the Liberal Nationals need to win 20 seats. This is wrong because it discounts the possibility of a minority government. The last Coalition government in Queensland was a minority government supported by Independent Liz Cunningham, the member for Gladstone. There are 5 independents in the Queensland Parliament, and most of them would be likely to favour the LNP over Labor, meaning that the LNP can govern with less than 45 seats in Parliament. The same is also true of Labor, although because of the composition of the Independents, they would have more trouble.

There is one caveat on my prediction - and that is that all other things should be equal. The LNP is in a good position, but it can easily squander it with the sort of inept campaigning that has characterised each of its campaigns since 1998.

They have to resist the temptation to make big spending promises and keep the focus on the government. This election isn't about whether Queensland needs a "safe pair of hands" or "the Queensland you want", but whether anyone could do worse than the government in managing the economy. This is not an election to raise expectations, but to lower them.

Government takes a second look at emissions trading
Friday, 13 February 2009 15:12 | Written by Graham Young

The federal government appears to have been reading our research, or similar, on an emissions trading scheme.

According to The Australian Online

TREASURER Wayne Swan has asked a powerful House economics committee to judge whether the proposed emissions trading scheme is the best way to tackle climate change...

The Australian Online understands the move may be an attempt to gather evidence to discredit opposition to emissions trading by the Coalition.

There is also speculation it is designed to pre-empt any findings of a Senate committee inquiry.


It could also be a rational response to research like ours showing that for a variety of reasons voters across the spectrum are unhappy with it.

It is probably coincidental that the decision occurred only days after we released our research. But then again, I have started emailing summaries of key research to federal parliamentarians, and some have even been responding on our comments threads, so who knows?

Queensland Labor's "Don't risk it" strategy?
Friday, 13 February 2009 14:46 | Written by Graham Young

My local state member Gary Fenlon (ALP) has a message for me - "Keep Greenslopes in safe hands".

The message presumably hopes to leverage the uncertainty that tough times bring, is consistent with the fact that Labor is regarded by voters as the best party to handle most issues, and exploits voter concerns that the Liberal National Party is an unknown, new force put together from two adversarial parties that has no strongly defined policies.

Parties exercise tight control over candidates these days, so I am assuming that someone at ALP HQ is reading the same sort of research that we are, and shaping his message accordingly.

I'm not sure what research the Liberal National Party is reading. A billboard at the Normanby Fiveways features two local candidates and Lawrence Springborg.

"We can deliver the Queensland we all want" the billboard proclaims.

While our research shows dissatisfaction with Anna Bligh it doesn't show any higher satisfaction levels with the Liberal National Party. And while it shows voters unsure of what the LNP stands for, it is not likely that they will find an assertion that the party "can deliver" credible, devaluing your whole message.

In these times of uncertainty, a "Queensland we all want" is also likely to be deemed a mirage. One that's "not too bad" is more likely to be seen as achieveable.

When you pitch a message that people don't believe you evoke what is called "cognitive dissonance". Disbelief at one statement is transferred to all other statements, even if they are true.

(For a brilliant example of how cognitive dissonance can be used, check out the British Conservative Party's exploitation of Gordon Brown's claim that Britain has "saved the world" to undermine his credibility on everything.)

We are not yet in an election, so there is time for the pitches to change. If they don't the new Liberal National Party is definitely heading for a debut loss.

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